Libya’s Stockpile of Missiles Vanishing

Carloads of Surface-to-Air Missiles Looted

Libya’s rebels are still caught up chasing Moammar Gadhafi across the nation, announcing once again today that they have him “surrounded,” a promise that has fallen through many times already.

But the international community’s biggest concern is not figuring out where Gadhafi is, but what is happening to his tens of thousands of surface-to-air missiles. As it turns out, those missiles are vanishing at an alarming rate.

Reports on the ground have Tripoli’s weapons warehouse coming up empty: empty crates, packing lists for missiles long gone, and inventory numbers that don’t lead anywhere. Others say the same about weapons depots in other cities. Where are the missiles?

According to Human Rights Watch official Peter Bouckaert, they’re long gone. “I’ve seen cars packed with them,” he noted, adding there were enough anti-aircraft missiles to “turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone.”

Libya’s neighbors have feared this situation from the start, and the flow of weapons across the region seems to be on the rise. With Libya’s economy virtually destroyed in this war, and its only export real industry in ruins, weapons smuggling is likely to remain big business for the foreseeable future — with markets open possibly all the way to Afghanistan.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.